You can be both
In light of the recent shootings of unarmed black men by police officers in Baton Rouge, La., and St. Paul, Minn., and the horrific murder of five Dallas police officers in the midst of an otherwise peaceful protest, a dangerous equivocation has seeped into the American consciousness.
Some spectacularly rotten apples have spoiled the bunch in the minds of American people. One murderer amongst a crowd of hundreds of protestors in Dallas; a few dozen looters hiding amidst the thousands of mourners gathered in Ferguson and Baltimore; and the entire #BlackLivesMatter movement has been besmirched forever.
The problem with #BlackLivesMatter is that, at its core, it’s an unorganized movement. There is no central structure and no authoritative leader who can speak for the whole to distance them from criminal activity. This permits individuals with nefarious purposes to tangentially associate themselves with the movement before they commit heinous acts.
Afterward, in the media uproar, the small, soft voices of the individual protestors who disassociate themselves from the violence often fall on deaf ears.
Advocating for criminal justice reform does not go hand-in-hand with supporting anti-police force sentiment.
Have there been egregious abuses of police power in recent years? Yes.
Should they be investigated fully and preventative measures taken to prevent further abuses? Of course.
Is expressing anti-police sentiments and rhetoric and targeting police officers in violent crimes as retribution effective, helpful or beneficial to anybody? That’s a resounding no.
Let us all remember that one does not necessarily equal the other: Wanting to seek out the spoiled apples standing among our men and women in blue does not make one unequivocally anti-police. Neither is striking back against those who would use #BlackLivesMatter to commit crimes inherently racist.
We must use the human capacity for empathy to remind ourselves that a person can be both. One can appreciate and support our local police forces, while still advocating for criminal justice reform.
You can be both. And a great many people are.